The team behind Western Australia’s bid for an NRL side would be open to the prospect of a current club relocating to Perth – an idea being promoted by rugby league great Gordon Tallis.
Tallis believes one of Sydney’s eight NRL clubs – with his suggestion being Cronulla – should shift to Perth instead of the league risking financial pain by expanding the competition to 18 teams in 2013.
A decision on possible expansion won’t be made until the NRL’s independent commission is formed later this year.
Western Australia Rugby League chief executive John Sackson said although his first preference was for a Perth team to gain entry on their own right, the prospect of a club relocating to Perth would still be welcomed.
“Overall we want NRL back in this town,” Sackson said on Tuesday.
“We want an NRL team here representing the State of Western Australia.
“It’s interesting what Gordie had to say about his belief in relocating.
“From our point of view in a perfect world we’d prefer to build a brand new franchise here from the ground up.”
Tallis said the Sharks’ financial struggles and the overcrowded market in Sydney made them the perfect club to move west.
“I think there’s too many sides in Sydney,” Tallis said.
“There are some great white (sharks) off the coast here (in WA) so I think it would be a perfect fit and they can call them the Perth Sharks.
“It’s about growing the game and coming here (to Perth), it’s a great market.”
Perth is among the contenders to be granted entry into the NRL should the league decide to expand the competition in line with the start of the next TV rights deal in 2013.
Sackson said Perth represented the perfect environment for a new side, recalling the success the Western Reds enjoyed before they became a victim of the Super League war in the late ’90s.
“There’s a misconception that the Reds failed here back in the ’90s,” Sackson said.
“In actual fact they didn’t fail.
“They were a victim of the politics and the fallout from the Super League establishment war.
“The average crowds at the less-than-ideal WACA was 17,500 people a game and crowds as high as 25, 26,000, so it’s very fertile ground here.
“There’s plenty of evidence here that the population of WA want rugby league at elite level and want to see a team back in Perth.
“The NRL at the end of the day has to figure out whether they want to keep the game east-coast-centric or if they really want to get on the front foot and expand and develop the game.”
Tallis, now a forwards coach at South Sydney, was in Perth on Tuesday to promote the Rabbitohs’ June 24 clash with Brisbane at Perth’s nib Stadium.
South Sydney reaffirmed their commitment to playing games in WA by signing a new deal that will see them play at least one home game in Perth until the end of the 2014 NRL season.